VATICAN CITY — When Pope Benedict XVI circled St. Peter’s Square last Wednesday (May 23) in his popemobile during his weekly general audience, Paolo Gabriele, his “assistente di camera,” or butler, was sitting right beside him, as he had been doing for the last six years.
But the shadows of suspicion were already hanging heavily over Gabriele, and within hours, he would be arrested on charges of being “illicitly in possession” of some of the pope’s private documents.
Now, people are asking how it could have happened and, more basically, who is Paolo Gabriele?
According to a reconstruction by Italy’s daily La Repubblica, Gabriele had been approached the day before his arrest by Benedict’s personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Ganswein.
He warned Gabriele that investigators were closing in on him as the person who had been stealing private memos, notes and letters from the pontiff’s desk over the last six months, and leaking them to the Italian media. He also offered him a chance to confess and explain his actions.